A day after head coach John Harbaugh expressed disappointment in the recent performance of his special teams, the Ravens have signed former Kansas City return specialist De’Anthony Thomas.
To make room for Thomas on the 53-man roster, the Ravens waived cornerback Maurice Canady, who had recently been dealing with a hamstring injury and no longer had a role on defense after the acquisition of Marcus Peters and the return of Jimmy Smith. Canady played well against Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but he struggled in the Week 6 win over Cincinnati, the last game in which he played.
Thomas worked out with Baltimore last week, a development that became more interesting when punt returner Cyrus Jones muffed a punt in the second quarter of Sunday’s 37-20 win over New England. Jones ranks seventh in the NFL in punt return average this season, and the Ravens are tied for 11th in the league in estimated points from punt returns compared to league average, according to Football Outsiders.
“We’re confident in Cyrus, and we’re always looking for players,” Harbaugh said. “To me, that’s kind of how it always works.”
The 5-foot-8, 176-pound Thomas was released after five seasons with the Chiefs last month and has returned 58 kickoffs and 85 punts in his NFL career. A 2014 fourth-round pick out of Oregon, Thomas has four receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and one punt return touchdown in his career. He had fumbled twice with Kansas City this season.
With neither Chris Moore nor Justice Hill providing much as kick returners, Thomas could serve as a more immediate option in that role. Football Outsiders rank the Ravens just 25th in estimated points from kick returns compared to league average this season.
“Special teams, generally, is inconsistent right now. We’ve had some [roster] turnover,” Harbaugh said. “We were really, really doing a good job early in the year, and it’s not as good right now. We’re going to play, if not the best special teams, one of the top two or three special teams in the league next week in Cincinnati. We better go. We have to crank it up.”
The recent release of three-time Pro Bowl selection Justin Bethel to protect a 2020 compensatory pick was a tough blow to Baltimore’s special teams that still rank third in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric through Week 9.
The Ravens also signed defensive end Michael Onuoha to their practice squad, but Miami signed running back De’Lance Turner off Baltimore’s practice squad on Tuesday afternoon. Turner appeared in four games for the Ravens last year and was a solid insurance policy behind starter Mark Ingram, top backup Gus Edwards, and Hill.